Strategic planning in local government: is the promise of performance a reality?
Edwards, Lauren Hamilton
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The purpose of this dissertation is three-fold. First, it explores whether or not experience with strategic planning increases comprehensiveness of the strategic planning process. Second, it investigates the potential impact of comprehensive strategic planning processes on performance. The final rationale for this dissertation is to determine whether the impact varies according to the dimension of performance analyzed. This exploratory study uses a unique data set that combines the performance measures of select local government departments from the International City/County Manager's Association and an original survey of the heads of those departments to determine their strategic planning practices. The dissertation utilizes an evaluative approach by analyzing the practical significance of the potential impact including correlation, differences between groups, and effect size. These analysis taken together can help demonstrate a potential relationship where regression analysis would be inappropriate due to small sample size. The findings justify further studying these questions about strategic planning in the public sector. First, the analysis demonstrates that departments with more strategic planning experience have higher mean comprehensiveness than departments with less experience. Second, though the findings are mixed concerning the impact of comprehensive processes, the majority of the findings support the hypothesis that more comprehensiveness leads to better departmental performance. Finally, the mixed findings demonstrate that strategic planning comprehensiveness impacts different dimensions of performance differently.